October is Spine Health Awareness Month


National Spine Health Awareness Month is observed every October as a public reminder of how important spinal health is. The state of a person’s back has considerable affect on their quality of life, thanks largely to its impact on physical capability.

For those suffering severe back pain or spinal disorders, Methodist Hospital for Surgery (MHFS) is proud to offer numerous treatment options, including non-surgical pain management options.

“Back surgery is typically seen as a last resort,”

says Dr. Robert Viere, spinal surgeon at MHFS. “It’s usually reserved for people who have nerve root compression or loss of nerve function, or who have progressive instability or deformity that will lead to loss of nerve function.”

For everyone else, there are alternative treatments that include pharmaceutical therapy, relying on anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, corticosteroids and neuro-modulating drugs. Other options include physical therapy, traction (a form of decompression therapy), deep muscle stimulation or electrical stimulation. Also common are injections in the spine for joints and nerves that have become inflamed, or for joints that are arthritic—special injections can halt pain signals.

Back Surgery Patients

After all other options have been explored, back surgery may be the best solution available, especially if a patient is facing herniated discs or spinal deformities like scoliosis or kyphosis.

In Dr. Viere’s experience, patients who require back surgery have typically been receiving conservative, management-style treatment without showing improvement, or they’ve shown a progressive nerve deficit or loss of nerve function. For patients who have instabilities or spinal deformities, they’ve generally been treated for a long period of time and their treating physician may have tracked progression of their instability or spinal deformity that would ultimately lead to compression of other vital structures in their body.

Outlook for back surgery patients is almost always favorable; following surgery, a patient usually works through physical therapy for 6-12 weeks and is then given custom exercises to practice consistently at home.

According to Dr. Viere, who has been in practice for 25 years, the key to successful back surgery is choosing the right procedure for the diagnosed disorder. At MHFS, surgeons like Dr. Viere offer everything from minimally-invasive procedures to major corrections of spinal deformity, which may require intra-operative CT and image magnification.

Learn more about spinal surgery options at Methodist Hospital for Surgery by contacting our spine program coordinator Candace Callegan @ 469-248-3855 or ccallegan@methodistsurg.com.

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